Mr. Thomas Whittaker
Metaphysician and Critic
Mr. Thomas Whittaker, the author of many philosophical works, died in a Clapham nursing home yesterday after a long illness at the age of 79.
The eldest son of a consulting engineer of Accrington, he was educated at Dublin Royal College of Science and at Exeter College, Oxford, where he won a scholarship in natural science and took second-class honours in biology in 1880. In 1881 he began to contribute to Mind, and from 1885 to 1891 he assisted Professor Croom Robertson in editing this publication. In association with Professor Bain he edited Croom Robertson's "Philosophical Remains." As a result of his studies of Christian origins he developed a definitely rationalist outlook, and he had been a director of the Rationalist Press Association since 1910. His philosophical writings were generally characterized by an admirable coherence of thought and a timelessness which seemed the fruit of his long study of Platoism.
Probably his best-known book is "The Neoplatonists: A Study in the History of Hellenism" which appeared in 1901, and of which the third impression was published in 1928. He expounded Neoplatoism as an independent philosophy of religion which had still a great and partially unexplored value for the modern metaphysician. With this work may be mentioned his "Apollonius of Tyana and Other Essays," 1906, and his study of Macrobius, 1923. His "Origins of Christianity," with an outline of Van Manen's analysis of the Pauline literature, first published in 1904, reached a fourth edition in 1933. His "Prolegomena to a New Metaphysic," 1931, contains many suggestions of value drawn from the rich well of Platonic thought. His last book "Reason," which came out last year, consisted of old articles reprinted with a new introduction.But the collection was unified by a single broad trend of thought.
Among his other works must be mentioned "The Philosophy of History," 1893; "The Liberal State," (1907); "Priests, Philosophers, and Prophets," 1911; "The Theory of Abstract Ethics," 1916; and "The Metaphysics of Evolution," 1926.